• Comparison of photosynthetic performance of Fagus sylvatica seedlings under natural and artificial shading

      Sevillano, Ignacio; Short, Ian; Campion, Jerry; Grant, Olga M.; Grant, Jim; O’Reilly, Conor; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2018-03-14)
      Commitment to sustainable forest management (alternatives to clearfelling) has led to a renewed interest in continuous cover forestry systems, which promote the control of light to produce stand benefits. Physiological performance of shade-tolerant European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) in response to light availability was investigated in natural regeneration below the canopy in contrast to planted seedlings under artificial-shade conditions. Although beech seedlings had higher photosynthetic capacity with increasing light availability, they were able to maintain positive CO2 assimilation rates under low light levels in both field and controlled conditions. Leaves of seedlings under low light had the ability to use light more efficiently (higher PSII efficiency) than those in high light, which offer some physiological explanation for the ability of beech seedlings to grow under very low light conditions. Whilst caution is advised to interpret results from controlled to field studies, the overall general correspondence in the trend of the physiological response to light levels within beech grown below the canopy and under artificial-shade conditions suggests that it might be possible to extrapolate results from studies performed under artificial shade (nets) to field conditions. Hence, the use of nets may be an alternative way of assessing the potential physiological responses of seedlings to light availability.